Damiana is a plant native to Mexico and the southern United States. The dried leaves are used medicinally.
Why People Use Damiana
Damiana has been widely used as an aphrodisiac in Mexico for men and women.
The use of damiana as an aphrodisiac is somewhat controversial because there is no scientific evidence that it works and yet it has been widely promoted as a sexual stimulant.
One study suggests that damiana may have plant compounds with effects similar to those of progesterone. Over 150 herbs were tested for their ability to bind with estrogen and progesterone receptors in breast cancer cells and found that the damiana was among the six highest progesterone-binding herbs and spices.
Damiana is also used for asthma, anxiety, depression, headache, and menstrual disorders, however, there is no scientific evidence that it works for these conditions.
Damiana is found in various forms, including capsule, liquid extract, and tea form. A typical dosage is a 400 mg capsule taken once or twice a day.
Damiana may cause mild indigestion.
Damiana contains a glycoside compound called arbutin. In the urinary tract, arbutin is converted into a chemical called hydroquinone. In large amounts, hydroquinone can cause nausea, vomiting, tinnitus (ringing in the ears, convulsions, and eventually, collapse and death.
Although damiana contains about 1/10 of the arbutin as the herb uva ursi, a maximum safe dose of damiana has not been established.
The safety of damiana in children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Piacente S et al. "Flavonoids and arbutin from Turnera diffusa". Z Naturforsch [C]. 57.11-12 (2002):983-5.
Zava DT et al. "Estrogen and progestin bioactivity of foods, herbs, and spices". Proceedings of The Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine. 7.3 (1998):369-78.